The Department of African American and African Studies is pleased to announce the Brown Bag Presentation featuring AAAS Faculty Member, Dr. David Crawford Jones. The talk is entitled, "Farm Boys and Mine Workers: The Gendering of the Migrant Labor Body in the Making of Modern Namibia." The talk is scheduled for Friday, 10/23/2015 from 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM and will be held in the AAAS Conference Room (386B University Hall). For more information please contact the Department of African American and African Studies at 292-3700.
As the predominant mode of labor organization during South Africa’s rule in Namibia, the territory’s migrant labor system revolutionized the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men who migrated from northern Namibia into work on the white-owned farms and mines in the south. Based off my research into histories of corporal punishment in colonial Namibia, this lecture will argue that these journeys were intimately gendered, not only through the labor recruitment process, which classified men based on physical characteristics that determined the amount of money they would earn, but also in the disciplining of the labor force by the white judicial system. In labor centers throughout the country, thousands of migrant workers were fined, imprisoned, and whipped for violating the central provisions of the infamous 1920 Masters & Servants Act. Based on oral interviews and research into the criminal records of the towns of Keetmanshoop, Oranjemund, and Walvis Bay, I analyze discrepancies in punitive practices and how these were interpreted by the migrant workers themselves, informing local understandings of masculinity that still resonate in Namibia today, more than 25 years after national independence.